Posted by Wayne Thorpe on Jun 30, 2019
"It is indeed a pleasure to be at the helm as we forge into our thirtieth year of existence" - President Lowell Dilworth

It is with great pleasure and humility that I accept the post of president of the most dynamic club in District 7020, the Rotary Club of New Kingston - A Platinum Club!
It is indeed a pleasure to be at the helm as we forge into our thirtieth year of existence with the benchmark so set that we expect only an upward trajectory in the years to come. I must commend the charter members who had a vision of creating a vibrant club that would act and has acted by Rotary’s standards of contributing positively to the society, and ultimately ‘do good in the world.’
The question may be asked, ‘What makes Rotarians special?’ Is it (A), the fun and fellowship that we have with each other; is it (B), our ability to mobilise a group of like-minded persons as well as affiliated groups to go out and fulfil needs at the community level, nationally and internationally without seeking compensation; or is it (C), our need to give service to our fellow men in numerous ways for the improvement of all humanity. Is the answer A, B or C? Well, the answer is all of the above. We all desire to leave the world in a better state than how we found it, that is our modus operandi.
Our main partner on this sojourn has been the Rotary Foundation. For 11 consecutive years, this entity has been rated as one of the top charities worldwide. The Foundation earned the recognition for demonstrating both strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency. For potential donors and for us, this is important.
Our global drive to ‘End Polio’, to which every Rotarian in this club has contributed, has garnered international attention to the extent that we have attracted major donors including Bill Gates who has donated over 450 million dollars to the cause. Along with international partners, we have helped to reduce polio by 99.9 % since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 cases to 22 reported cases in 2017. As a result, we now have polio in only 3 countries worldwide.
In light of that track record, it is now being suggested that once we have finally achieved our objective re Polio eradication we should tackle Diabetes, a lifestyle disease to which we can all relate. However, before we tackle that task, this year our District will be focussing on a Water and Sanitation project called ‘HANWASH’ geared at providing clean water to every home in Haiti. We are aware of the challenges with respect to water quality in that country and while we may not suffer from generalized bad water quality locally, we do have similar challenges, especially in underserved communities. We must address this issue, especially since water security is gaining traction as an area of global focus.
So, ‘Why Am I a Rotarian?’
There are multiple reasons. Following hurricane Irma that devastated the region in 2017, the first images I saw on CNN was a Rotarian standing adjacent to a building that had been reduced to rubble, he was a first responder distributing potable water. We see Rotarians on the ground, traversing the globe in areas that are difficult to access because of conflict, with the main purpose of executing projects geared at reducing the impact of war. The same goes for those who travel to remote areas of the globe in an attempt to end polio. This is what we do. We respond to community needs in diverse locales as needed. Locally, the significant impact of Rotary Clubs is felt in all spheres of society.

"It is indeed a pleasure to be at the helm as we forge into our thirtieth year of existence"

The impact of our community involvement continues to grow and the difference that we make continues to make it a worthwhile undertaking. Some things cannot be measured, the looks on the faces of children of varying ages as we help them to create a school vegetable garden is unforgettable. The look of relief on the faces of children and community members who attend our annual health fair is long lasting. Our sojourn into varying communities to execute water projects and projects geared at early childhood education always leaves a lasting positive impression. So, my principle remains that we give not because we have a lot but because we know what it is like not to have, and by extension, we know what the implications are of not having in our society. From a club’s standpoint, our focus on youth development, health and wellness, water and sanitation as well as education continue to be our pillars of strength.
Fellow Rotarians, let us be energised or reenergised as necessary. Let us not underestimate the value of our contributions globally. A recent study by John Hopkins University placed the estimated annual economic contribution of Rotary at eight hundred and fifty million United States dollars arising from about 47 million hours of volunteer effort. This excludes monetary gifts, funds raised by TRF, as well as the economic value of Rotary affiliated groups (including Rotaract, Interact, Earyact, Community Corps) and family members. Translated into economic terms, Rotary is annually generating a scale of social and economic problem-solving effort that is worth nearly nine times more than it costs the organisation to produce. This reiterates what we all know, governments alone cannot fulfil all community needs in a timely manner and this is where our actions become important.
In the upcoming year, we aim to do more, especially in the areas of economic and community development as well as in peace and conflict resolution. We however can make a greater impact by partnering with other service clubs, or with individuals or entities that share our common interest. We will also not forget that we should design and execute projects in a sustainable manner, ensuring that their impact will not wither away with a change in administration.
I am a Rotarian because I genuinely care about the welfare of people and the community and I see the need and opportunity to make a positive difference. In going down this road, I am fortunate enough to have a strong team of individuals with me. This in my opinion, is one of the main reasons we have a very strong club, a dynamic club and one that has transcended borders to be one of the best in District 7020. Won’t you join me in making it even better?
I am ready…

Lowell Dilworth
President, 2019-2020
The Rotary Club of New Kingston